Psalm 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11
Uncertainties and the unknown are a messy part of our everyday lives: Will my children find jobs in their new locations? Will I be able to handle my aging parent’s debilitating disease? Should I accept a new position? What major should I declare in college? What will the medical tests reveal? I want to trust when a friend says, "Don't worry, everything will be ok," but I just don't know if I can calmly wait for the outcome.
Questions bring their own kind of energy and tension...leaving us suspended in an uneasy 'in-betweenness,' because we can't control the outcome. We can only enter into the uncertain places of our life and trust that things will become clearer - less messy - as time passes. 'In-between' places are a difficult place to be because we struggle with having to 'be' in the waiting and really can't 'do' much to hurry the outcome.
In today's Gospel, Jesus counsels his friends, 'do not be troubled.' (Often throughout the Gospels, people are greeted with the words, "Do not be afraid." People, then as now, find change and the unknown somewhat frightening.)
During the Church’s Easter season calendar of readings, this Gospel passage is something of a ‘retrospection' - we look back to Jesus’ conversation with his friends at the Passover meal the night before he dies. His disciples are obviously struggling with what Jesus is trying to tell them about 'going to prepare a place for you.'
I imagine that Jesus' words of attempted encouragement... "do not be troubled," "you have faith in God and (so) have faith in me as well, "and "you know the way that leads to where I am going" only baffled his friends all the more. He assures them that "you know the way that leads to where I am going" but in their uncertainty, they cannot believe this. Thomas even blurts out, "But we don't know where you're going. How can we know the way?" Jesus' friends want some concrete answers - a road map with clear directions so that they can be sure to find Jesus if he leaves them.
I certainly can identify with Thomas' panicky response. Vague reassurances in the midst of questions and uncertainties do not feel very helpful. However, Jesus wasn't being vague or mysterious here when he responded, "I myself am the Way. I am the Truth and I am Life."
His friends had traveled with him for nearly three years. They witnessed Jesus' way of being with and for others. They heard his words and witnessed his actions...his truth. They experienced the life of God's spirit in Jesus' presence with them.
But it would take the 'in-between' time - following the resurrection and pentecost days to realize what Jesus' words truly meant. I think that Jesus was trying to tell his friends that it was because of their relationship with him that they now could trust in him, in his ways, in his truth, in his life. However, until the 'in between' times were entered into by his friends...a time of waiting, of 'being,' the words were meaningless. There had to be a readiness - an openness to who and what Jesus was in order to truly understand the meaning of the words.
In hindsight I realize that my times of questions or uncertainties
were perhaps more agonizing because I forgot to ask my God to walk with
me, to 'be' with me in the in-between times until my response/action became
clearer to me. I am not alone; God is with and in my spirit,
helping me to 'be' into my ability to respond.
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